How do I know if I am properly hydrated?

During activity, you lose water primarily through sweating and breathing. There are two main ways to monitor your hydration to see if you are replacing lost fluid: Take note of the color of your urine, and how frequently you urinate. If you are properly hydrated, your urine should be pale yellow in color. If your urine is dark yellow or even brown in color, you are likely dehydrated and need to drink fluids as soon as possible. Ideally, you should be emptying a full bladder that contains pale yellow urine every 3 to 5 hours daily.

You can also monitor fluid loss by weighing yourself before and immediately after activity to calculate your net fluid lost. The basic formula is pre-exercise weight minus your post-exercise weight equals your net fluid loss. These weigh-ins should be done in the same or similar dry clothing with dry hair and should only be used to monitor fluid intake, and not for general, everyday weight monitoring. Drink 2 to 3 cups of both water and a properly mixed sports drink for every pound lost and not replaced during activity.

This answer provided for NATA by the Appalachian State University Athletic Training Education Program.

Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiologist (Heart Specialist)

Hydrate yourself with water, not soft drinks of energy drinks, during the summer months. Dr. Oz talks about a quick test you can do to see whether you are dehydrated in this video.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.